By Laura Everly

The high school gymnasium was packed wall to wall and yet it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  There was exactly one second left in the girls’ high school basketball regional finals and the Stallions were down 70-68.  Freshman Maggie Reynolds was at the foul line.  She took the ball from the referee.  Sweat was running down her face.  She blinked…took a deep breath…bounced the ball twice and shot.  The ball arched and zipped through the basket.  The ground erupted.  Stallion fans were chanting Maggie….Maggie.

Now the Stallions were down by one.  Maggie took a step off of the foul line.  She wiped the sweat from her face, took two deep breaths, and took the ball from the official.  She took one last breath, bounced the ball twice and shot.  It seemed like eternity before the basketball came down, but when it did it bounced twice on the edge of the rim and fell into the hands of a Racer.  The buzzer sounded.  The final score… Racers 70…Stallions 69.

Lost among all the Racers’ jubilee stood Maggie Reynolds at the foul line in disbelief.  Maggie had always been a typical gym rat.  Since the age of five, she had dreamed of this moment.  She had practiced day after day at her house and at the school, dreaming up different scenarios, but none of them had ever ended like this.  This hurt…a lot.

Maggie joined her teammates in congratulating the Racers for their victory and wished every player the best of luck, but deep down, Maggie envied every one of those Racer players.  Maggie listened to Coach Stern’s consolation speech, but her mind wouldn’t stop going through game what-if scenarios.  She just couldn’t stop blaming herself for this loss.  Maggie knew how special the seniors were to her, but it really touched her heart when they went around to each player and thanked them for a great year.  

Maggie took a deep breath.  Now the hard part.  Walking out of the locker room.  She wanted her parents to be proud of her.  She had wanted to win a championship for the fans.  She slowly walked out of the locker room with her teammates.  She was surprised.  The fans were standing in two lines clapping and giving the players high fives.  Maggie was amazed.  Her parents were at the end of the line.  It seemed like they were clapping the loudest.  They gave Maggie a huge hug.

This Stallion team had reached the regional finals.  They were the first team in the school’s history to do this.  Maggie’s parents explained to her that everybody wanted the team to know how proud they were of them and how much they appreciated the team.  That is why they had all waited outside the locker room to give the team high fives.

On the bus ride back home, Maggie thought about the season.  Maggie was thinking about how special this team was.  They were more than a team; they were a family.

She knew she wasn’t the star of the team. That wasn’t how her parents had raised her.  They taught her the importance of giving 110 percent in everything she did, but to be humble in all her achievements.  Maggie was thinking about how special this team was.  They were more than a team.  They were family.  They had study groups together.  The whole team had waited in the hospital waiting room while Sarah had to have surgery because her wrist fracture was bad.  The team was at Britney’s grandmother’s funeral and sat with her after the calling hours and funeral, all crying and laughing at Britney’s stories about her grandmother.  They were great times too.  They had a huge surprise birthday party for Coach Stern.  They were at Libby’s sister’s wedding.  Yes, they were definitely more than a team, they were family. 

And then Maggie’s mind wandered back to that missed foul shot.  Maggie knew she wasn’t the star of the team.  She didn’t start, she was the sixth woman of the bench.  But when she was on the basketball court, she gave 110 percent.  Maybe that was why this loss hurt so much.  She didn’t think she had given 110 percent because she missed that foul shot.

Maggie’s parents had taught her to always give 110 percent in everything she did.  They had also taught her to be humble.  When Maggie walked off the bus that night, she made a promise to herself.  From now on, she was going to give 120 percent in everything she did.

The next morning, Maggie was up early shooting foul shots.  She was working on every shot from every position she could imagine.  When her neighbor and best friend Marcus came over, she played defense against him.  She even took charges from him even though he outweighed her by twenty-five pounds.

In school, Maggie also gave 120 percent in her studies.  Maggie was second in her class.  She wanted to be first.  Marcus was at the top of the class right now.  They often studied together, and challenged each other to be better.  They both loved the competitive, supportive friendship they had.

During open gyms and practices, Maggie noticed that the whole team was working extra hard to be better.  The hard work had paid off.  The Stallions are in the state finals.

The Stallions are down by one point; the score 87-86.  Sophomore Maggie Reynolds steps up to the foul line and shoots.

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